A drugged driver who plowed his BMW into a woman’s car at 107 mph in Cathedral City, fatally injuring her and causing major head trauma to her teenage son, was convicted Wednesday of second-degree murder.
A Banning jury spent one day deliberating before finding 27-year-old Emanuele Trombini guilty of taking the life of Caryn Clemente while driving under the influence of Xanax and marijuana on Feb. 24, 2016.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Timothy Hollenhorst scheduled a sentencing hearing for Oct. 24 at the Banning Justice Center. Trombini is being held without bail at the nearby Smith Correctional Facility.
It was the defendant’s second trial — the first resulted in convictions on two counts of driving under the influence of drugs resulting in great bodily injury or death. That jury deadlocked last fall on whether to convict Trombini of the murder charge, setting the stage for the retrial that got underway at the end of August.
According to the prosecution, Trombini was driving 107 mph when he came upon Clemente’s Toyota Camry after the 50-year-old victim exited a restaurant parking lot onto westbound Palm Canyon Drive. Trombini’s BMW 328i rear-ended the slower-moving car, causing it to roll over.
Clemente died in the middle of the street after a Cathedral City police sergeant freed her from the mangled Toyota, which was leaking fuel, prompting fears it may explode. Her 16-year-old son, Peter, suffered traumatic brain injuries in the crash.
The defendant suffered moderate injuries, along with his girlfriend, who was belted into the right front passenger seat of the BMW.
Trombini, an admitted habitual marijuana user, had begun his day “smoking weed,”aAccording to the prosecution’s trial brief. When Cathedral City police officers questioned him, the defendant did not deny lighting up, saying he had smoked three grams with his girlfriend.
“Defendant did not think marijuana affected him, even though he classified the marijuana he consumed as the “bomb (expletive),” the brief stated.
Toxicology tests also verified the presence of Xanax.
Trombini said he was addicted to fast driving, as reflected in multiple speeding citations he received in the six years prior to the deadly wreck, according to the prosecution. He told investigators that he had once pushed his car to 160 mph while driving on a freeway between the Coachella Valley and Riverside.
“He expressed his addiction to racing as `a fetish, I get off to fast adrenaline,”’ the brief said, “`I’m an athlete. Anything extreme where you risk your life — I like it.’ Defendant claimed he didn’t remember anything about the collision because … `I smoke weed and forget.’ Defendant stated `of course’ it is dangerous to drive fast after smoking marijuana. `It’s not smart, because you’re not at your full mind state.”’
Several motorists were driving in the same direction as Trombini and witnessed him maneuvering erratically at speeds in excess of 100 on city streets, according to the prosecution. He nearly sideswiped one driver and ran onto the center median in the area of Frank Sinatra and Palm Canyon drives.
Peter Clemente required 56 staples to his head and continues to suffer from the damage inflicted on him in the crash, according to prosecutors.